Last week Bishop Larry Silva invited me to join him on a group pilgrimage to Kalaupapa, Molokai, site of Father St. Damien’s famous parish for patients with Hansen’s Disease (leprosy). We celebrated Mass for the pilgrims at Fr. Damien’s Church, and then visited his gravesite outside. We then went to visit the site of Mother St. Marianne Cope’s convent and Home for Girls. She was the Franciscan nun who came with eight Sisters to act as nurses for the patients. Unlike Fr. Damien, neither she nor any of her Sisters contracted leprosy.
Not only is this part of Hawaii extraordinarily beautiful, it is filled with the presence of two saints, and memories of the mercy they poured out on the 8,000 patients who died in their care. There are still 17 patients living in Kalaupapa, all elderly, receiving medical care for the same disease. Some of them attended Mass with us. Praise God for His mercies.